Southeast Texas Record

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Ninth Court tackles special appearances issue in offshore drilling injury suit

By David Yates | Jun 1, 2016

Oilrig 05

BEAUMONT – Three out-of-state marine companies named as defendants in an offshore worker’s injury suit recently won their appeal, as the Ninth Court of Appeals found the trial court lacked personal jurisdiction over the litigation.

Through the Arnold & Itkin law firm, David Carnes filed suit against Sembcorp, Jurong Shipyard and Noble Drilling Holding in Jefferson County District Court, alleging he was injured while working aboard the Noble Regina Allen, a drilling vessel, while in Singapore.

Court records show all three defendants moved for special appearances, which the trial court denied.

A special appearance may be made by any party for the purpose of objecting to the jurisdiction of the court. Texas Rule 120a allows a non-resident defendant to challenge a Texas court’s personal jurisdiction without becoming subject to the court’s jurisdiction.

On appeal, Sembcorp and Jurong maintained they were Singapore companies with little connection to Texas, while Noble Drilling argued that it did not maintain offices or employees in the state.

“To say that Plaintiff’s asserted bases of personal jurisdiction over Noble

Drilling Holding, LLC is scant and reaching is a vast understatement,” the company’s brief states.

“There is no evidence of minimum contacts sufficient to support personal jurisdiction over Noble Drilling Holding, LLC, a Delaware holding company, with no employees and its principal place of business in the Cayman Islands.”

On May 26 the Ninth Court vacated the trial court’s order denying the defendants’ special appearances, court records show.

Nederland attorney Jamie Matuska and Beaumont attorney Jon Burmeister represent all three defendants.

Appeals case Nos. 09-15-00430-CV and 09-15-00484-CV

Trial cause No. B195-180

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